Signiz narrowed his eyes, his blond hair waving due to the strong wind. What he saw was an army with armors dyed in black. In the middle of the day such color was easy to spot, but during the night, it would assimilate with the surroundings.
Several kilometers away, from the enemy camp, he could see their flags whose coat of arms was the design of a sword with gold and silver-headed snakes entwined on top of a sable background. It was such a rare design, and the snakes’ red eyes were as if glaring at the surroundings.
(Hmm, their number is around 1000, I guess ?. All of them wore unified armors… Probably it was something that Baron Mikoshiba had gathered from a trade, and I would guess that he still have extra money to spend. I think it is foolish for us to underestimate Baron Mikoshiba… They said that we will defeat him in one fell swoop, but…)
The number of soldiers of Earl Salzberg which had the ten northern nobles assembled, numbered around 2000.
The commanders gathered on the city wall when they received news that the enemy force had arrived. They wanted to look at Mikoshiba’s army with their eyes.
“How is it, Signiz ?”
From his back, while crossing his arms. Roberto spoke to Signiz who kept staring at the enemy camp.
“This battle… It might turn into something that we can’t understand how to handle it…”
Signiz murmured those words in response to his friend’s question without looking back and kept starring at the enemy.
It was proof that he himself realized the words he was saying were something he should not have aired.
After all, in term of soldier’s numbers, Earl Salzberg’ side had twice more. Furthermore, the Earl’s soldiers were based in Epiroz city that was known as a fortified city.
They still could also hire the city residents or mercenaries from the guilds.
Speaking about pros and cons, with the current situation the Earl’s advantage seems solid.
That was why, if the surroundings heard him spoke so pessimistically, they would think of him as someone like a coward or moron.
However, Signiz spoke his worries daringly…
It was like an experienced warrior smelling the scent of war. His intuition that had been nurtured throughout many battlefields told him something…
The moment he saw the enemy’s army, his intuition told him that something very dangerous was approaching.
“Fuuh… Well, if you said that then I guess you’re right…”
“You really never change huh ?”
Signiz smiles bitterly at Roberto’s unchanging steadfast attitude.
Among Earl Salzberg’s army, Signiz and Roberto boasted overwhelming power and the most battle history. And it was decided that both of them would lead the frontline.
The frontline commanders in this world were those who lead the first charge to cut the enemy’s line.
Their group was the one who decides the success of their army, while the second and third groups would be the one who finished the war, It can be said their mission was to directly control the flow of the battlefield.
Originally, for men, such a position was considered something very honorable. Since that means the others recognize the ability of the man who holds the role of vanguard, but at the same time that position was the most dangerous position.
However, despite holding such important responsibilities, Roberto remained calm when he heard Signiz’s words. He has neither affirmed nor denied them. Or rather, his attitude could be said as indifferent.
“Well, even with you saying that it won’t change our work anyway. I just want to kill the enemy in front of my eyes… Afterwards, the old man and those buffoons that need to think…”
Saying that, Roberto directed his sarcastic gaze towards the surroundings. His cold eyes virtually represented the words he wanted to convey.
“Oh, is that Baron Mikoshiba army ? Their appearance looks exaggerated.”
“But looking at that equipment, it seems Wortenia Peninsula is a wealthy land beyond our initial thoughts…”
“Haven’t you heard it from the Earl ? I heard that they had recruited slaves as soldiers…”
“Although their numbers are splendid, in the end, quality is what matters. He seems to be quite a successful man for an upstart, but I wonder how useful those soldiers would be for him…”
“According to the stories I heard from the Earl, all of the three hundred soldiers he choose to bring as reinforcement to the Zalda Kingdom, were all capable of using magic arts…”
“Truthfully, it must be some kind of bluff… He must have hired some talented people and made it look like his entire army had the same ability.”
“Well, I also think that but…”
From various places, words of ridicule towards Mikoshiba Ryouma could be heard.
Those groups were standing slightly away from Signiz. They were people who one day would inherit the ten nobles’ territory. Although Signiz and those people were looking at the same thing, their impression was so different like it was heaven and earth.
There were some people who advocated a somewhat cautious theory, but it seems they didn’t show any disagreement at the others’ opinion.
Well, in a sense their behavior was something natural. Since they only have fragmented information when it comes to Baron Mikoshiba Ryouma and his territory.
“You don’t have to bother yourself with them. What we need to do is to perform our duty.”
Roberto erased the sarcastic smile on his face, then he stared at Signiz’s eyes.
Signiz diverted his eyes after seeing Roberto’s sharp gaze.
To Signiz, this war was just to help someone, it was something he actually didn’t want to do, just like Roberto, but Signiz felt they should still do their best to win.
However, Roberto seemed to have a different sentiment.
“But still, what do you think about the outcome of this war ? Besides, Earl Salzberg was a military man too… If I told him about some plan, I’m sure he would still listen !”
As a commander, he had to do his best to preserve the soldiers’ life. That thought was the reason Signiz did his best.
If they could devise some measures, damage could be kept to a minimum.
In extreme case, they might have to hole up inside Epiroz city for a while to gather information regarding the enemies.
Although Roberto understood Signiz thoughts, he still disagreed.
“No matter what we say, no one would hear our opinion. They will only regard us as someone who doesn’t know our place, or someone who wants to snatch away the inheritance by currying some favor with the Earl. Besides, I heard rumors that if I won this war, I would be killed.”
Originally they were still alive because their families thought both of them had no interests with the inheritance, therefore both of them could become the commander of their territory’s armed forces. Truly, their family thought they both were a convenient substitute for the actual heir that was lacking in courage. Conversely speaking, if their behavior was even a little bit suspicious, the lives of these two people would be doomed in an instant.
The strong men on the battlefield were not necessarily secure men in daily life.
“Signiz, you’re thinking too much, you know ? Seriously, you need to do something to that bad habit of yours. You should think about your own self for a bit. We just have to kill the enemies in front of us. And if there is a trap, we could just break it by force.”
“Like I said, think about yourself a bit more…”
Saying that Roberto slightly taunts Signiz.
A small mutter leaked from Signiz’s lips.
“You… Are you really thinking it is fine for us to be like that now ?”
His longtime friend didn’t answer his question and turned his back.
“Master. We have a report from Jinouichi-sama that all ten northern noble house’s force has gathered inside Epiroz city.”
After Ryouma received the information that the soldiers from the ten noble houses had finally gathered.
Inside the command tent.
On the table, there was a map with a detailed topography of the northern part of the Rozeria Kingdom.
“Also, I was instructed to deliver this…”
He then gave a sealed letter to Ryouma.
Ryouma then put it inside his chest in silence without opening it immediately.
“I see… You’ve done well. Take a sufficient rest, then go back to Jinouichi immediately.”
Saying so, the soldier quickly bowed down and went out of the tent.
“What’s wrong boy ? Is that a secret, again ?”
Hearing that, he saw a woman with red hairs that reached down her shoulders smiling at him
However, Ryouma was not a small child that would get upset with such words.
“Yes, It is a secret. Well, I will give you the detailed explanation later.”
Although he said it was something secret. Ryouma easily said those words.
“Fuuh, I see… You’re really a child who like to tease others, eh ? Honestly though, that personality of yours has become worse lately…”
“You should’ve known perfectly well my method of doing things, right ?”
In response to Ryouma who smiled at her while saying that, Lione floated a grimace on her face.
“Well, that is of course… After all, you’ve been such an impudent boy from the very first day we met. At first, I thought you were being childish because you’re still young. However, since that time, it has been a few years, so it won’t be weird for me to get accustomed to your personality. Am I right, Boltz ?”
Saying that, Lione directed the topic to his confidant that was always together with her for many years.
“Well, I’m not going to get surprised anymore at least… After all, young master is going to make a big gamble right now. It would be best for him to be cautious…”
“Well, I also think like that. It is better to be cautious than being a fool that never thought about anything…”
An inquisitive gaze was then being directed at Ryouma.
“If that’s the case then, I pass, don’t I ? After all, Lione-san is still going to trust me…”
“Fuuh… This boy, he got me but it irks me somehow…”
Hearing Ryouma’s words, Lione’s face turned red.
After saying those words, Lione then diverted her gaze to another direction. Everyone inside the tent knew that she was just trying to hide her embarrassment.
Lione who had led the mercenary group for many years, and Bolts as her adjutant.
Having the backing of the Guild aside, it was the two of them who decided whether or not their employer was trustworthy enough.
As a mercenary, it was their job to fight for money while putting their life on the line. It was therefore a matter of life and death whether or not they could understand their employer’s mind. That was why their discerning eyes was good.
Besides, it was nothing more than because of circumstances that Lione and Bolts were serving under Mikoshiba Ryouma.
Irrespective of any sense of moral obligations and feelings, if they judged that the man named Mikoshiba Ryouma was not going to benefit them, or he was not worthy of serving, Lione and the other mercenaries would head to another country.
In other words, the fact that Lione still supports Ryouma was the proof of their trusting relationship.
Nonetheless, it seems that even a woman like Lione would feel embarrassed if he told her that with a straight face.
For a while, gentle air flowed inside the tent. However, it was not for long…
“Well now, the entertainment is finished, let us get down to the main business. We will proceed just like I had told everyone in advance, thus I believe nothing needs to be explained anymore, yes ?”
Ryouma’s low and cold voice resounded inside the tent.
Lione, Bolts and the other top brass’ expression instantly tightened.
“First of all, as expected, the ten northern noble families had gathered their forces inside Epiroz city. Their total numbers are around 2,000 men.”
Ryouma’s hand put two knights pieces that looked like a horse on the map, just above Epiroz city mark.
“All of them are knights ?”
“Yes, Bolts-san is right, every single one of them are regular knights.”
“I see, it seems young master’s plan has worked well, eh ?”
“Well, on the battlefield the number of soldiers is important, even if they are just a normal citizen. If they ended up being recruited it would increase the enemy numbers, which I don’t want…”
The others inside the tent nodded their head after hearing Ryouma’s explanation.
Compared to chess the knight was like the rooks, knights, and bishops pieces that could move fast in special ways, while the citizen was like the pawn and could only move straight and slowly.
That was why there was no way to compare their abilities, but a game was not something that was only decided by the piece’s ability. Depending on the tactics, even the weaker pieces were still able to kill the stronger ones.
“For now, we will proceed as we have planned before… After that, we will decide the next move after the results of our first battle, right ? How about the first battle ?”
Saying that Lione smirked. Despite boasting excellent skill as a commander, her nature was more of a warrior.
Her martial instincts seemed to have sensed the bloodbath that would happen soon.
“Right, we will face them head-on. We will perform a frontal attack.”
The moment Ryouma said those words, the others immediately raised their voices.